Pregnancy Rights Primer

Pregnancy Rights Primer

June 17, 2016

Pregnancy rights are integral to the American economy and the American family. Better late than never, society is finally coming to recognize it. Women are smart, capable, and dedicated workers, and guess what – many of us have kids!

New York City has one of the best pregnancy discrimination laws in the country. The New York City Human Rights Commission, which enforces them, issued some new guidelines last month. And this week, for the White House United State of Women Summit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new fact sheet. This post is intended as a very basic primer on your rights under NYC and federal laws. The first step in enforcing your rights is knowing what they are.

New York City

NYC requires employers to reasonably accommodate pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, without the need to prove “disability”. Related conditions includes things like pumping breast milk, abortion, and fertility treatment. Discrimination against pregnant workers is strictly prohibited. Note that discrimination isn’t always black and white. If an employer takes action against you, even in part because of your pregnancy, come talk to us – you may have a claim. This can mean anything from hostile remarks (including jokes) that make you uncomfortable, to demotion or firing. Any “lesser treatment” counts.

If you need a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy, the employer must participate in a “cooperative dialogue” to help find a workable solution that doesn’t pose an undue hardship. We can help you navigate this process.

After giving birth, you are entitled to take reasonable leave. This means at least 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and at least 8 weeks for Caesarean. If you need more time than that, the employer must engage in the cooperative dialogue. Upon your return, you are entitled to be reinstated at your position or any equivalent one, with the same benefits and seniority. Do you suspect you’re not being treated as well after taking leave as you were before? Come talk to us!

More info on the NYC laws is available here.

United States

The federal laws, which cover employers with 15 or more employees, require employers to offer pregnant workers the same accommodations they offer other workers. For example, if you are allowed to work from home after you break your leg, then you should be allowed to work from home if you need to because of your pregnancy. Pregnancy is not considered a disability per se under the ADA, but many common pregnancy symptoms are. If you have any questions – need I say it? – come talk to us.

Conclusion

It is my firm belief that changing the way we think about the relationship between work and pregnancy/ childbirth is absolutely key to achieving gender equality. The experiences I had, when I had my own kids, are what led me to open my own firm, and dedicate my life to helping others ensure that they don’t suffer at work for the important work that goes into growing a family. It’s how our species survives and thrives!

If you have questions about your rights, come talk to me. I am happy to give complimentary advice to anyone who is motivated enough to take action on their own behalf. These actions have a ripple effect, as more and more of us get to know and enforce our rights, educating others, and showing by example that pregnancy and childbirth are but one happy chapter in the life of a working parent.

Thanks for reading!

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